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World Fantasy "Report"

So, before I went to World Fantasy Con, I was like this:


And after World Fantasy Con, I'm pretty much like this:

OMG, WFC! (and I'm tired)

I would tell you about all the huge-lots of people I saw, but you would probably be very bored by this unless you were one of them (or if you are secretcrush (ETA: Or secritcrush, even), I bet even then) and I would leave someone out, and someone else would feel bad. Also, on the way home, I tried to write down a list of all the people I met for the first time alone, and that list had gotten to seventeen people long before I almost fell asleep driving and had to pull off and catch some z's at a rest area. Let's keep in mind that compared to some of the networking fiends I know, meeting seventeen new people (and I just thought of three more, so, twenty) is probably not impressive, but shoot, those are the ones I can remember offhand.

Uhm. Have I mentioned the massive sleep deprivation?

The things of import that I shall report on:

I saw leahbobet for the first time since 2004, when I was such a neophyte as to be larval. We have corresponded aplenty since then, and have shared a lot of similar experiences this year, and seeing each other was just so good, and I think also important for both of us.

I met with my agent--in snatches, I'm afraid--but I got some important reassurances about my career path, and she applauds my not quitting my dayjob, and--. Good stuff. What agents are for.

I fangirled Sharon Shinn at her signing. I know that aj and iuliamentis at the very least are jealous.

I did some of my due diligence, and attended the SFWA business meeting.

I had tapas!

I attended a panel and took notes! I used to feel kinda silly posting panel notes, but honestly, I love 'em, and I don't think people do them enough. Here's

The Fairy Tale as a Specific Form

Delia Sherman, Gabe Dybing, Leah Bobet, Terry-Lynne DeFino, James Dorr

(Let me just say: the panelists were good. Leah was very good. And Delia Sherman was outrageously awesome. Comparisons may be odious, but look, Delia should be on every panel about fairy tales, ever. I'm almost positive she was on a fairy tale panel with me once when I was pupal, and I thought the same thing then; this is not something that fades with time.)

(Errors in this transcription are probably inevitable. Omissions are even much more likely. I was writing as fast as I could, and usually two or three thoughts behind.)

Dybing: what's a fairy tale?

Dorr: fairy tales have a generic feel: no place, no time, few specific names

Sherman: the original tales, not the literary ones, were based on oral traditions, so they're structured/patterned to aid memory; we (writers) manipulate those patterns to call upon archetypes and write something more powerful thereby

Bobet: can you subvert it? Then it's a fairy tale (as opposed to fantasy); if you can subvert something, it must have a rule set, and fairy tales have rule sets, so yeah, if you can subvert it, it might be a fairy tale

Dybing: Grimms literarified the stories [did he say that or did I just write it?] when they wrote them down. But Hans Christian Anderson made his fairy tales out of whole cloth. Is there a literary fairy tale, and can you write a true modern fairy tale?

Bobet: Fairy tales were truths once. We try to get back to that by making the underpinnings of [retold/new] fairy tales true again.

Sherman: Darnton? compares English/French/German versions of fairy tales so you can see the culture of each. Not cultural details like clothes or houses, but the way tales are told reflect the culture. Does it end in blood or does it end in...

Sherman: [I may be highly misconstruing this point, but it fascinated me as I understood it] D'Aulnoy and [the other major French court fairy tale writer... Beaumonde le Prince??] added fairies to the fairy tales. They were the feminists of their time, writing women who attract/pursue/catch a rich and powerful but simultaneously good and fair husband who will provide for his wife the space in her life to have her own agency. (Whoa.)

Sherman: Jane Yolen, The Girl Who Cried Flowers -- a true modern book of fairy tales, not drawn from existing retellings but the well of story itself. No cultural details, but nonetheless reflective of the 60s.

Dybing: What was the setting of the Yolen book?

Sherman: "Once upon a time, but of course it was yesterday."

Dorr: Bellebelle - French female chevalier (no idea what he was saying actually, but I wrote down the words to Google later)

Bobet: there are folks who write fairy tales that point directly at the story they are retelling--Mari Ness's story about Rumpelstiltskin (in Ideomancer?)--and there are folks who write fairy tales out of whole cloth: Amal El-Mohtar, Cat Valente, Merrie Haskell (No way, namecheck?)

Dybing: Are fairy tales absent of culture?

Sherman: No! The trappings of clothing is not culture. Things like the agency of children, who dies at the end, that's culture.

Dybing: Is there a fairy tale logic?

Fairy tale logic: "pluck this flower and a princess across the sea will die." Is that how fairy tales are different than fantasy?

Group: Is fantasy even separate from fairy tales? Which is the subset of the other? Implied: who cares? It's all one thing.

Sherman, I think: Gandalf is magic, he doesn't do magic. That is fairy tale magic; you can't just learn it, you have to be it. It's ancient, shamanistic magic, not plug and play like in a lot of modern fantasy.

Was noted that the panel description asked: How are fairy tales different from the "usual run of fantasy." This was pronounced a bit condescending. :)

Bobet: There is no "usual run of fantasy". It's in the reader, not in the world. We impose rationalism on the world but that doesn't make the world rational.

Sherman: No one has read everything but Jack Zipes has come close!

Then the panel went to questions--inevitably with the question from the latecomer who asks something that was already answered.

Old friends and new friends and rebonded friends! I am beYOND tired, because I stayed up too late every night. Losing my voice. Convinced that I caught a cold that's there, lurking. So glad to be home, safe and sound, and hope everyone else is home safe and sound, too.



( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 1st, 2010 02:26 am (UTC)
"[I may be highly misconstruing this point, but it fascinated me as I understood it] D'Aulnoy and [the other major French court fairy tale writer... Beaumonde le Prince??] added fairies to the fairy tales. They were the feminists of their time, writing women who attract/pursue/catch a rich and powerful but simultaneously good and fair husband who will provide for his wife the space in her life to have her own agency. (Whoa.)"

Jack Zipes has written a bunch on this. You probably know his work - I just like reminding people :). I also need to update myself. I haven't read any for years.
Nov. 1st, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
No, I don't, but I think I'm going to go read some of it. I've read a lot of fairy tales but very little critical analysis thereof.
Nov. 1st, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
Zipes is a good place to start then. (Can you tell I like his work :) )
Nov. 1st, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
JEALOUS!!! And so glad you had a good time!
Nov. 1st, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
Nov. 1st, 2010 02:36 am (UTC)
Yes--Robert Darnton wrote a really famous book that I read in grad school and immediately forgot the title of. It was really good, though!

Madame le Prince de Beaumont wrote La Belle et la Bête--yeah, Sherman speaks truth, as usual.

I don't recognize Bellebelle the French woman chevalier. Do you remember any other details? That's the kind of thing that I'd have noticed and remembered, but I guess it was too long ago. :-(
Nov. 1st, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
No, I don't have anything else, and I'm not even SURE anything else was SAID at that point. It was kind of a muttery point, and my ears pricked up because the words were interesting. ;)
Nov. 1st, 2010 03:09 am (UTC)
AHA! Phear mah googulage!

Belle-Belle. I'll let you look it up in the English version. :-) No wonder I didn't remember it--it's not medieval! What a relief.
Nov. 2nd, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
*points below* I beat you by a solid 2 minutes!
Nov. 1st, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
Thank you for panel notes!
Nov. 1st, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
Nov. 1st, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
Sounds awesome! I met so many great people at WFC last year. This book has some great info about those French feminist fairy tale writers Delia Sherman talked about.
Nov. 1st, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
Ooh, thanks for the rec.
Nov. 1st, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
Sounds like it was a great time--so happy for you! And I'm totally jealous :) (although I probably would've just clutched the Twelve Houses books to my bosom and made incoherent squeaking noises.)
Nov. 1st, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)
I was good and told her about my book and she wished me good luck with it. :)
Nov. 1st, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)
A winner is you!
Nov. 1st, 2010 05:04 am (UTC)
Glad you had a good con!
Nov. 1st, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
Nov. 1st, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
Glad you had a good con. It was lovely to meet you in person!
Nov. 1st, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
It was so nice to meet you, too! I didn't get to talk to you enough, I don't think, but I'm sure we can try again sometime.
Nov. 1st, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
I missed you bunches. <3

I totally miss you bunches now.
Nov. 1st, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
Bunches and bunches and bunches.
Nov. 1st, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)
Who is this secretcrush you speak about?

nice meeting you etc., etc. even if you did call me Jan.

Edited at 2010-11-01 06:40 pm (UTC)
Nov. 1st, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC)

I wrote "sekritcrush" the first time and was like, "THAT's not right."

Oh, Jan, you have me so discombobulated.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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